A sharp conflict between critics and defenders of a conciliatory policy toward the Roumanian government occupied the attention of the delegates to the annual convention of the United Roumanian Jews of American held Sunday at the Pythian Temple Club.
Accusing the past administration of the organization of servility to Roumanian officials, Leo Wolfson, the newly elected president, told the convention that the present condition in Roumania required more than promises on the part of officials, and asserted that the Roumanian government was not doing enough to safeguard Jewish lives.
“I welcomed the coming of Maniu to power,” Mr. Wolfson said. “I believed that through him Roumanian democracy came into its own. I had hoped everything would be peaceful and Jewish rights safeguarded. The first ten months of his administration went smoothly and in a satisfactory manner, but the last few months have been keenly disappointing. The government should maintain order, but not at the cost of Jewish lives.
“I believe in friendly cooperation with the government in a dignified manner, but sweet words and promises cannot compensate for Jewish blood shed and property devastated. Whenever and wherever that happens, I will protest.”
Abraham Hirsh, newly elected vice-president, also spoke in the same vein, demanding that the organization cease being satisfied by promises made it by Roumanian officials and seek to force the government to give the Jews their constitutional rights by influencing public opinion.
Bennett Siegelstein, retiring president of the organization, reporting on the year’s activities and on the present situation in Roumania, said:
“The situation in Roumania is greatly improved, although it is not yet perfect. We are hopeful for the future. Anti-Semitism is general throughout the country, but we cannot blame the government for that as long as the government is doing its best to remedy conditions. We feel that the Maniu government is sincerely doing its best for the Jews.”
Solomon Sufrin, former president and chairman of the Nominations Committee, also defended the Siegelstein administration and the Roumanian government.
“I feel we have in Carol Davila, the Roumanian minister in Washington, a man whose word we can take and who will see to it that his promises to this organization are fulfilled,” Mr. Sufrin said. “We feel that manifestoes and protests only result in antagonizing a government which, since it has come to power, has through its various ministers promised complete emancipation to the Jews.”
“The entire anti-Semitic movement under the present government is not religious but economic,” he continued. “We are satisfied the constitutional rights of the Jews are not being officially denied by the government.”
Due to the injection of personalities, debate was frequently acrimonious, particularly in the discussion of the report of the Nominations Committee. Many attempts were made to settle existing differences, and Abraham Friptu proposed a compromise between the two factions. Mr. Siegelstein, the retiring president, was unanimously offered the honorary presidency of the organization, and Mr. Wolfson was elected unanimously to the presidency. Abraham Hirsh, Jacques Weiss, Bruno Burk, Jacques A. Goldstein, Samuel Kanter, Peter Foerster and A. D. Braham were elected vice-presidents. Herman Speier was reelected secretary and H. Haimovitz, treasurer.
A resolution offered by Mr. Wolfson addressed to the Roumanian government was unanimously accepted. The resolution expresses the hope that in the process of democratizing Roumania, the interests of the Jews as citizens will be safeguarded, and declares these rights seriously affected at the present moment. The recent statement of Dr. Costachescu, Minister of Education, in the Roumanian Parliament, casts unjust reflections on the Jews of Roumania and America, it asserts, and asks that the government of the National Peasant Party take adequate means to protect Jewish rights.